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Upper St. Clair woman's death at Drexel probed as possible meningitis

| Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 10:06 a.m.
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Stephanie Ross, a 2012 graduate of Upper St. Clair High School, died in Philadelphia on Monday, March 10, 2014, of a suspected case of meningitis. Ross was a sophomore at Drexel University.

A 2012 Upper St. Clair High School graduate and National Merit Scholar who died in Philadelphia of a suspected case of meningitis is being remembered as an outstanding student.

Drexel University officials said Stephanie Ross, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, was taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital on Monday after being found unresponsive by her housemates at the Phi Mu sorority house.

Authorities are treating her death as a suspected case of meningitis, but a cause has not been officially determined, Philadelphia Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran said.

Prophylactic antibiotics are being made available at the university's Student Health Center for those who came in close contact with Ross, a university spokeswoman said.

Officials at Upper St. Clair High School said the community is “deeply saddened” to learn of her death. Ross was a softball player, volunteer and National Merit Scholar at the school.

“On behalf of the school district, I extend our sympathy to the family and friends of Stephanie,” Superintendent Patrick O'Toole said in a statement.

Kevin Coffman, who taught Ross at Upper St. Clair for three years, including her senior year when she studied AP Statistics, remembered her as an outstanding student with a positive outlook.

“Stephanie was the kind of student you will never forget. She had such a passion for life. I never saw her without a smile on her face,” Coffman said.

Upper St. Clair teacher Clay Yonker taught Ross AP Physics C-Mechanics, one of the school's most challenging courses.

“Stephanie was very bright and was in our accelerated math program. I was not surprised that she chose to study engineering in college,” Yonker said.

Attempts to reach Ross' family were not successful. Upper St. Clair officials said support services are available to students through the counseling office.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com.

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